Adult Basic Education And Implications Of Digital Literacy

2694 words - 11 pages

Adult basic education or ABE is a complicated area given that there are varying definitions of the words the title contain. Theorists, practitioners and learners can give differing accounts of what it means to be an adult learner, what constitutes basic education and how to facilitate said education. In practice, the area of ABE describes a whole range of programs that deliver a baseline or basic set of skills that all adults are expected to have acquired during compulsory education (ABE, 2013). According to Jacobson (2012), there is now an increasing availability of digital technology resources for education that are beginning to be applied to adult basic education settings. The presences of these technologies are undoubtedly changing what is defined as basic skills. As students develop their content knowledge, computational and language literacy skills in instructional settings and modalities that utilize technology, digital literacy becomes an inescapable aspect to both learning and teaching in the ABE field and education as a whole.
Social learning theorist Etienne Wenger (1998) coined the term community of practice as “…groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” The interactive, collaborative and social aspects of asynchronous and synchronous digital technologies cannot be denied. They allow education to organize and design learning into groups or communities that communicate around content. This learner-learner communication aspect connects the experience of many students to content practice promoting a more meaningful experience for the adult learner (Knowles, Elwood and Swanson, 2011). Through peripheral forms of participation and digital resources, broader communities both within and beyond the walls of a school are explored allowing students to develop as individuals within the larger community thus creating a social context for their learning (Dewey, 1933).
These technologies also have implications for teacher professional development along the same community of practice model. A CoP developed in an online environment known as an OCoP (Harasim, 2012), allow teachers and administrators the forum to discuss and develop best practices that support teachers in the development of instruction that in turn support learners in the exploration of digital literacies and content knowledge. An OCoP also takes advantage of and promotes understanding within the teacher’s practice of the usage requirements of digital technologies within the design and development of curriculum for content knowledge, computational and language literacy skills as their own professional development is designed within the digital environment (Hawkes and Pauli, 2010). Additionally, the development of an OCoP, perhaps as a website or wiki application removes the boundaries of time and place and increases the efficacy and accessibility of information dissemination and...

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